My Holiday Customer Experience Wish List

Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
As 2012 draws to a close, I have a few wishes for 2013 to ensure that we all have better customer experiences.

As 2012 draws to a close, I have a few wishes for 2013 to ensure that we all have better customer experiences.

1. Send relevant and timely offers. Sixteen years after Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote The 1to1 Future, and marketers still need a cue from that playbook. This holiday season my inbox, mailbox, and mobile phone have been saturated with email offers, catalogs, and daily deals that I delete, ignore, or throw in the trash. Emails from asking me to browse photos of single men. Enticing, but I'm married. Weekly catalogs for Pottery Barn Kids. Useful if I had children. And daily deal alerts for a parade of massages and spa services beyond a reasonable traveling distance from my house constantly ping me. This onslaught of marketing communications is not only wasteful spending; it's a turn-off to customers. I know that the constant emergence of customer channels continues to befuddle marketers even more as collecting and analyzing customer feedback and information becomes a bigger issue, but Big Data and voice-of-the-customer strategy must be marketers number one priority in 2013. Customers want a seamless and relevant experience--one that generates offers in the channel of their choice when they need it the most. This leads me to my second wish...

2. Collect real voice-of-the-customer sentiment. I don't know about you, but I rarely have the time or patience to participate in customer surveys. Typically in a rush, I choose to opt out of them. Since I'm sure I'm not alone, companies must leverage new ways to more accurately gauge their customers' sentiment about their brands. This requires moving beyond generating quarterly surveys. It requires an enterprisewide approach to customer listening--from training the front-line staff to ask customers strategic questions to get to a desired response to employing a team that tracks and listens to social sentiment. But listening isn't enough and that leads me to my third wish.

3. Act now.
Collecting customer feedback and tracking social sentiment alone won't move the needle on your customer experience. True customer experience leaders have real processes, strategies, and technologies in place to ensure that they're putting the data that they collect to work for them to ensure they're constantly improving upon the customer experience. This leads me to my fourth wish.

4. Invest in your people. All the customer experience plans in the world aren't enough without the people behind them to move them ahead. Forward-thinking customer experience leaders pay for continuous training, empower their staffs, and employ customer-focused leaders to help guide and move their vision forward. In doing so, you'll not only build a loyal customer base, but also trusting employees who will become your brand advocates.

5. Reward customers and stop taking them for granted! I visit my local grocery store several times per week and spend thousands every year with the establishment. Never do I receive any coupons or thank-you in the mail, or even recognition while I'm checking out. Because I've been ignored for so long, I've started to stray, checking out the produce at the neighboring market down the street, and the meats at the store's competition across town. I'm assuming if the company took the time to understand my behavior, it wouldn't be pleased about my recent shift in shopping habits and may act now to try to keep me at its store 100 percent. But the company hasn't taken the time to know anything about my needs even though I step foot in its store a few hundred times every year.

What's your burning customer experience wish for 2013?